There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.


Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.


click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.


Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.


Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.


This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

random reads

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

Screwtape Proposes a Toast, C. S. Lewis

Worshiping the Fear of Isaac

There's this passage in Genesis where God gets one his most obscure, mysterious names. In Genesis 31:42, Jacob calls Yahweh the "God of his father Abraham and the Fear of Isaac." Of course there's more story here than meets the ear: no doubt it was on the mountain called Jehovah-Jireh, where Yahweh himself only just stayed the sacrificial knife held to his chin, that Isaac learned to call his father's god "The Fear."

But of the many names for the Lord in the Old Testament, I find myself meditating on this name, Pachad Yitschaq, "Fear of Isaac," most often. It reminds me that, for all his being the Lover of my Soul, there is still something about God that is absolutely other, absolutely transcendent, absolutely the stranger. He is wrapped in thick darkness even as he is robed in unapproachable light (see Psalm 18:11 or 97:2). And for the ancients, the merest brush with the absolute otherness of God didn't come without a sense of absolute terror.

I think we need this reminder that our Father in Heaven is also the Fear of Isaac. Partly because it reminds us again what an awesome blessing we have in Christ, who leads us to the foot of Fear enthroned as to the knee of a loving father. But more importantly, because it chastens us whenever our attitudes towards God are too flippant, whenever our worship of God is too human-centred, whenever our talk about God is too self-assured. Maybe fear is one of the ways God convinces us that he is not just a spiritual self-help book or a linear equation to be solved. Because to call God "The Fear" is to confess that God is not at the beck and call of our felt-needs, or our emotional appeals, or our rationalistic proofs for why God has to be the way we want God to be.

A couple of years ago I was thinking about all this, about what it means to name God "The Fear of Isaac." Eventually my thoughts became a poem which later became a song. Wondering again about the otherness of God, I thought I'd share it here. [You can click here to listen to the song.]


Jon Coutts said...

Yeah, and I think it incredibly interesting to think that this is the name given to people before the name Yahweh is given. A progressive revelation of sorts. And of course now we have been given the name Jesus, and Emmanuel, names suggesting perfect love that drives away fear.